Chapter 3: Symptoms and health concerns
Constipation – What is it and what causes it
Constipation is a condition where people aren’t pooping (moving their bowels) as often as they usually do, which negatively impacts quality of life. They may feel bloated or nauseated, and they may experience stomach pain. Most people have at least one bowel movement every three days. If left untreated, constipation can lead to more serious problems including a bowel blockage.
Click the arrows to see some causes of constipation.
A decrease in eating or drinking
A decrease in exercise or activity
Eating greasy or low fibre foods
Medications such as opioids, diuretics, anticonvulsants, iron supplements, and antidepressants
Environmental concerns such as discomfort using a bedpan or commode; difficulty accessing the bathroom
Medical conditions such as an irritable bowel, thyroid issues, disease in the intestine
If the person is reluctant to take any medication that might relieve constipation, encourage them to talk with their healthcare provider about their concerns.
Contact a healthcare provider immediately if any of the following occur:
- There has been no bowel movement for three days.
- The number of bowel movements per day is unusually high or stools are persistent runny (diarrhea).
- Blood appears in urine, stool, or the anal area.
- There are persistent cramps or vomiting.
- There is new or increasing pain in the abdomen.
- There is new or worsening bloating or swelling of the abdomen.
- There is nausea, vomiting, or both.
Be sure to note any changes in bowel habits or discomfort for the person in the tracking journal. This will help to relay information to their healthcare provider.
Click here to see the questions the healthcare provider may ask. You might use these questions to guide the tracking journal.